The next-generation of graphics cards is nearly here. AMD, NVIDIA and Intel have all worked tirelessly these past couple of years to develop the best GPUs in the game. While both companies have already carved out their space in the industry, this will be the Blue Team’s maiden outing. Therefore, the pressure to deliver is on Intel.
The CPU giant has actually, technically, already launched their first-ever discrete GPU lineup in the form of Arc A-Series mobile. However, not only was the launch hastily executed, the drivers are just now getting stable enough to compete with AMD and NVIDIA.
From the start, there’s been much potential in Intel’s hardware but it’s the software that has sorely lagged behind. So far, nearly every leaked benchmark, except for the very recent ones, have pointed towards a premature software suite not ready to maximize the hardware’s otherwise fruitful capabilities.
Intel has promised a Q2 2022 initial launch for its desktop GPUs. While we don’t have concrete release dates (not even Intel itself has probably settled on those yet), there is a general launch schedule planned with the Arc A380 and the Arc A780 SKUs to launch first. The other models will follow suite afterwards.
Arc A380 launched
According to latest leaks, the release of these first two models was stated to be somewhere in June and, sure enough, we’re seeing that come to life today. Intel has just launched the Arc A380 in China, priced at $153 USD (1030 Yuan). This moment is historic for the company as its Intel’s first-ever discrete (desktop) GPU launch in decades.
Now, coming to the card itself, we’ve already known about the nitty-gritty for a while now thanks to leaks and reports, but it’s still nice to see everything officially confirmed. The Arc A380 is a ACM-G11 based desktop graphics card using the entirety of that GPU, which gives it 8 Xe-Cores as a result.
The card has an impressively low TDP of just 75W, which means it won’t require external power and can be powered by the PCIe slot on your motherboard alone. The GPU is clocked at 2000MHz base, with no details provided for how high it can boost.
Moreover, Intel has packed 6GB of GDDR6 memory into this SKU, running at 16Gbps across a 96-bit wide memory bus, giving the card a total memory bandwidth of 192GB/s, the most in this tier of GPUs.
As for the reference design, it’s a pretty simple card with a single fan and no standout characteristics. Some might find this abstract simplicity boring while some may gravitate towards that in the wake of overly-futuristic light shows that are most of today’s GPUs.
All in all, that puts the Arc A380 in direct contention with NVIDIA’s GTX 1650 and AMD’s RX 6400, and surprisingly it edges both of those. Intel says the card is up to 25% faster than the RX 6400 while costing 25% less. Check out the benchmarks below:
Intel is claiming that the card can perform adequately well in 1080p titles pushing out 60FPS consistently across the board. Though, it should be noted that most of the games included in the provided benchmark are esports titles, and running on medium settings at that. It’s safe to assume high-fidelity AAA gaming is not ideal for this GPU.
GUNNIR custom Arc A380 variant
Apart from Intel’s own single-fan reference design, so far one other manufacturer has revealed their take on Intel’s first Arc desktop GPU. GUNNIR, a market leader in China, is making a custom variant called “GUNNIR Arc A380 Photon OC“. As you can tell, the OC moniker in that name suggests the card will come with a factory overclock.
Firstly, we can see that GUNNIR’s A380 variant is a dual-fan design with sleek, textured black lines running across the entire shroud. The card gives off a stealthy look that’s complimented by the LED logo situated on the side. Speaking of which, we see an 8-pin power connector right next to that logo.
The A380 Photon OC actually has a 92W TBP, much higher than the OEM 75W spec. That means it has to have an external power connector to facilitate the additional power requirements of the GPU. Paired with that higher power is a 2450MHz boost clock and the same 2000MHz base clock. Since we don’t know the boost clock speeds for the reference A380, we can’t evaluate the OC component of this custom variant.
Interestingly, Photon AC actually has slower memory than Intel’s reference A380, coming in at 15.5Gbps instead of 16Gbps. In theory, that prevents this card from having a 192GB/s memory bandwidth but I digress. Lastly, there are four display connectors on the Photon OC; one HDMI 2.0 and three DisplayPort (2.0). Compared to any AMD RX 6400 variant, the Intel offering has more options for connecting displays.
As for the price, we can make an educated guess and assume this card will cost more than the MSRP for the reference design but GUNNIR did not disclose the actual price.
A little tease
At the tail end of the product page, GUNNIR gives us a look at one of Intel’s flagship Arc GPUs… in the form of a blurred picture. As you can tell, the company is not ready to unveil this product yet and it’s more of a tease. It even reads “Future Flagship. Stay Tuned.”
It’s unclear (no pun intended) whether this is either the Arc A770 or Arc A780, but we can tell it’s a three-fan model with a 2-slot design. GUNNIR actually even confirmed that this flagship will feature three fans but that’s about all the info we got right now. As the tease says, stay tuned.
Arc is (finally) here
After months of delays and impetuous drivers, it seems like Intel is finally materializing its vision for Arc. The hardware looks ready, the software is better than ever, the prices are extremely aggressive and the time is right. The people need a third option to break up AMD and NVIDIA’s duopoly and offer refuge in today’s GPU market where prices are still more than they should be.
Soon, we’ll start seeing more and more Intel Arc GPUs start to launch as the company inches closer to a global announcement. The real test for Intel Arc would be a worldwide release aided by name-brand AIBs bringing an added layer of assurity for the buyer. If the company succeeds at pulling that off with the kind of performance its promising, no one would be able to doubt Intel as a serious GPU manufacturer.